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Israel-Hamas war: U.N. finds 'convincing' information that Gaza hostages faced sexual abuse

Some of those taken captive were subjected to sexual violence, including rape and sexualized torture, the U.N. team of experts said in a report.

What we know

  • The United Nations said it had found "reasonable grounds" to believe some victims of the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 were raped and sexually assaulted. The U.N. team of experts said in a report that it had found “clear and convincing” information that some of those taken captive were subjected to sexual violence, including rape and sexualized torture — violence it said "may be ongoing."
  • Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, told NBC News today that it is up to the United States to pressure Israel to reach a cease-fire agreement before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week, after the militant group presented its proposal for a new hostage release deal at talks in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Israel did not send representatives to the talks but officials have said it is monitoring the situation closely.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris expressed "deep concern" over the humanitarian situation in Gaza during talks with Israeli war Cabinet member Benny Gantz. The meeting before the U.S. and Jordan air-dropped more humanitarian aid into Gaza this afternoon.
  • Children are "dying of starvation" in northern Gaza, the World Health Organization said yesterday, as the Palestinian enclave suffers from severe shortages of food and aid. Gaza’s death toll has passed 30,600, according to the territory's Health Ministry, amid surging fears of starvation among its more than 2 million residents. The Israeli military said that at least 245 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

Blinken says the situation in Gaza is 'unacceptable and unsustainable'

Abigail Williams

The current situation in Gaza is both "unacceptable and unsustainable," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today after attending meetings in Qatar.

Laying the blame on Hamas for the humanitarian disaster within the Palestinian enclave, he said that Israel should to "maximize" the amount of aid that gets into the strip.

“Here we have an opportunity for an immediate cease-fire that can bring hostages home, that can dramatically increase the amount of humanitarian systems getting to Palestinians who so desperate need it,” Blinken said. “And can also set the conditions for an enduring resolution.”

He urged Hamas to accept the current deal being negotiated for a six-week cease-fire. The militant group has demanded a permanent cease-fire as part of any deal that would see the release of the more than 130 hostages who remain in Gaza.

Muslims will be allowed to celebrate Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Netanyahu says

Israel will allow Muslims to celebrate Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, Netanyahu said today in a televised statement.

“Israel’s policy has always been and always will be to maintain the freedom of worship for all religions,” he said. “Of course, we also behaved this way during the Ramadan holiday, and this is how we will behave now.”

"We will do everything to maintain the freedom of worship on the Temple Mount," he added, using the Jewish name for the site which is the religion's holiest. It is the third-holiest site in Islam.

"We will allow the Muslim public to celebrate the holiday," he said, but added this would take place while "security and safety needs," were appropriately maintained.

His comments came after a meeting with police and other officials to discuss the upcoming holiday and after some Israeli lawmakers including his ultranationalist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir suggested that access to the site should be limited during Ramadan.

Hezbollah says it targeted Israeli tanks along the border

Hezbollah targeted an Israel Merkava tank near the Lebanese border using a guided missile, it said in a statement on Telegram today, which caused the crew "to fall between dead and wounded."

The Lebanese militia had also targeted an Israeli squad with a missile strike shortly after noon, it said in a separate statement.

NBC News could not indepently verify the claims.

The Israeli military said on its own Telegram channel that sirens were sounded in northern Israel.

Hostages' families invited to State of the Union address

The family members of 10 American hostages have been invited by both Republicans and Democrats to this week's State of the Union address.

The invitations were extended to the relatives of current and former hostages Itay Chen, Edan Alexander, Liat Atzili, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Abigail Mor Edan, Omer Neutra, Hersh Golderberg-Polin, Keith Siegel, Judy Weinstein and Gad Haggai.

The group sent a letter to members of Congress with yellow ribbon pins and dog tags to wear as a symbol of support for the more than 130 hostages who remain in captivity in Gaza.

"We thank you for your steadfast efforts to bring our loved ones home, but we still have work to do to ensure the safe release of the hostages," the letter said. "We know you are in our corner and urge you to keep fighting for our families."

Child malnutrition 'particularly extreme' in northern Gaza, WHO warns


U.N. organizations said today that child malnutrition levels in northern Gaza were “particularly extreme” and about three times higher than in the south of the Palestinian enclave where more aid has been available.

Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO representative for Gaza and the West Bank, said that 1 in 6 children under 2 years of age were acutely malnourished in northern Gaza.

“This was in January. So the situation is likely to be greater today,” he added, referring to when the data was recorded.

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder also said that malnutrition rates for children under 5 in northern Gaza, where access to aid has been highly limited since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, were three times higher than those in Rafah in the south.

Biden admin carefully ramps up criticism of Israel but stops short of cutting off military aid


Carol E. LeeCarol E. Lee is the Washington managing editor.

Allie Raffa

President Joe Biden is trying to ramp up political pressure on Israel’s government to allow in more humanitarian aid and rein in its offensive in the Gaza Strip but has stopped short of cutting off weapons deliveries to America’s main ally in the Middle East, current and former officials say.

Reluctant to enter into a full-blown confrontation with Israel, the Biden administration instead has air-dropped humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians and held talks in Washington with a political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz. It has also stepped up public criticism of Israel’s tactics in Gaza — though, as NBC News has reported, apparently not as much Vice President Kamala Harris would like.

Dismayed at the plight of Palestinian civilians and with no let-up in the Israeli campaign, the White House National Security Council asked the Pentagon in recent weeks for possible options to get more aid into Gaza by air, land and sea, two administration officials told NBC News. 

Based on the Pentagon’s advice, the president opted for airdrops of aid and U.S. aircraft over the weekend began dropping pallets of food and other supplies on parachutes just off Gaza’s coast. Today, three U.S. Air Force planes dropped 60 bundles with 36,000 meals, accompanied by four Jordanian planes that dropped additional supplies, said a U.S. official, and more deliveries are expected.

Read the full story here.

Today's Gaza aid drop was the largest so far, Jordan says

Today's joint operation with the U.S. to drop humanitarian aid into Gaza was the largest operation of its kind to date, Jordan said in a statement carried on the state-run Petra news agency.

Three Jordanian Air Force C-130s delivered the aid, along with three U.S. planes, one from Egypt and another from France, the statement said.

Relief supplies from the World Food Programme were among the deliveries, it added.

Jordan has conducted 28 airdrop missions and another 15 joint operations since Israel's war with Hamas began Oct. 7, it said.

War Cabinet minister Gantz to meet with Blinken today

Israeli war Cabinet minister Benny Gantz will meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken today in Washington, Gantz's office said yesterday in a statement.

Earlier today, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met in Tel Aviv with American diplomat Amos Hochstein, an adviser to the Biden administration.

Gallant's office said they discussed the situation on Israel' northern border with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, whose "aggression is dragging the parties to a dangerous escalation."

Ship hit by missile in Red Sea will carry on sailing, operator says

A container ship that was struck by a missile near Yemen's port city of Aden was continuing its voyage to the East African nation of Djibouti, the vessel's operator said today.

MSC Sky II as it was sailing from Singapore to Djibouti, the Swiss-headquartered MSC, said in a statement.

“The missile caused a small fire that has been extinguished while no crew were injured. She is currently continuing her journey to Djibouti and will arrive today for further assessment,” the statement said.

Death toll in Gaza since Oct. 7 rises to 30,631, enclave's Health Ministry says

At least 30,631 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, the enclave's Health Ministry said today in a statement on Telegram. A total of 97 people were killed in the last 24 hours, the statement added.

The ministry added that 72,043 people have been injured in Israel's military campaign, which it launched after Hamas' multipronged attacks.

However, it is estimated that many more people have died after becoming trapped under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes.

U.S. and Jordan air-drop aid into Gaza

The U.S. and Jordan have air-dropped more humanitarian aid into Gaza this afternoon, U.S. Central Command said in a post on X.

The crew "dropped over 36,800 U.S. and Jordanian meal equivalents in Northern Gaza, an area of great need, allowing for civilian access to the critical aid," the post said.

Pressure has been mounting on the U.S. to push its ally Israel to cease its campaign in Gaza and speed up deliveries of aid into the enclave.

Jordan Aid Drop Gaza
Jordanian Army via AFP-Getty Images

Cease-fire deal now in the hands of U.S. and Israel, senior Hamas official tells NBC News

Keir Simmons

A senior Hamas official has told NBC News that it is now up to the United States to pressure Israel to reach a cease-fire agreement before Ramadan next week, after the militant group presented its proposal for a new hostage release deal at talks in Cairo.

A Hamas delegation had participated in a new round of talks with mediators in the Egyptian capital and was now awaiting a response from Israel, senior Hamas official Bassem Naim said.

“It is now in the hands of the Americans, if they are serious about achieving a cease-fire before Ramadan, to exercise enough pressure on the Israelis,” he said in a voice message.

IDF says it destroyed one of the largest Hamas tunnels ever discovered

Peter Guo

One of the largest Hamas tunnels ever discovered has been destroyed in northern Gaza, the Israeli military said in a statement today.

The tunnel with multiple branches was dug from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory but didn’t cross into it, the statement said.

It took a few weeks to study and dismantle the tunnel which discovered in December, the statement added.

Israel plans new crossing into northern Gaza, officials tell NBC News

Raf Sanchez

TEL AVIV — Israel’s military is drawing up plans to open a new crossing to deliver humanitarian aid directly into northern Gaza, two Israeli officials told NBC News.

The crossing is expected to be in the area around Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel, the officials said, though both stressed that plans were not finalized and could still change.  

The plan comes after intense U.S. pressure on Israel to get more aid into Gaza, amid growing signs of famine in the northern half of the strip. 

“People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a speech Sunday. “The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses. They must open new border crossings.”

At least 10 Palestinian children have now died of malnutrition and dehydration in northern Gaza, according to the United Nations, which has warned that 1 in 4 Gazans are now on the brink of famine.

Civilians flee Khan Younis as IDF tank looms

Max Butterworth

Displaced Palestinian women raise a white flag as they are shadowed by Israeli forces while fleeing Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip today.

Palestinian Women Flee Khan Younis
AFP - Getty Images

India advises workers to leave areas near Israel's borders

Indian nationals working near Israel's borders have been advised to “relocate to safe areas,” in a post on X by their embassy. Visitors to those regions were also advised to leave.

The post came a day after two Indian workers were wounded and another foreign worker was killed near Israel's northern border with Lebanon.

Facing dire shortage of labor, Israel has turned to Asian countries like India where it has recruited thousands of workers to fill jobs previously carried out by Palestinians.

Turkey detains seven suspected of selling information to Israel’s Mossad


Police detained seven people, including a private detective, suspected of selling information to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, Turkey’s intelligence agency said today.

The detective, who was a former public servant, was suspected of gathering information on Middle Eastern companies and individuals in Turkey, placing tracking devices and engaging in surveillance, the MIT intelligence agency said.

A video released by the Interior Ministry showed police raiding homes in Istanbul and seizing guns, bags of drugs and electronic devices.

“We will never allow espionage activities to be carried out within the borders of our country. We will catch them one by one and bring them to justice,” Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on the social media platform X.

Israel did not immediately comment on the operation.

Houthi targets hit after missiles fired at ship in the Red Sea, CENTCOM says

Peter Guo

Yemen's Houthi rebels fired three anti-ship ballistic missiles yesterday, according to a post on X from U.S. Central Command.

American forces conducted self-defense strikes in response, CENTCOM said today, adding that only one missile launched by the Iran-backed rebel group damaged a Swiss-owned container vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

No injuries were reported and the ship continued without requesting assistance, the statement said.

CENTCOM said its forces later carried out defensive strikes against imminent anti-ship threats to protect merchant and U.S. Navy vessels, which remained unaffected throughout.

IDF ground operations ongoing in Gaza

Max Butterworth

Images released by the Israeli Army today show a marksman pointing a firearm from a vantage point within a building, and other soldiers patrolling an undisclosed area of the Gaza Strip during ongoing ground operations in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Soldiers in Gaza
Israeli Army / AFP - Getty Images
Israeli Soldiers in Gaza
Israeli Army / AFP - Getty Images

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